Fighting oppression with laughter

Female comedians showcased at yearly event

Photo provided by Sarasvati Productions

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Returning for a third consecutive year to Winnipeg’s comedy scene is Saràsvati Productions’ Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser on Nov. 14.

Produced by Elissa Kixen and hosted by Dana Smith, the event will feature an experienced cast aiming to create a welcoming space that reflects the minority within the comedic industry.

“In an industry dominated by straight, cis, white male comedians, we needed change,” said Kixen.

Women’s Comedy Night is the showcasing of women and people of different ethnicities, brought together for their love of comedy.

“As comedy has a habit of not having equal ratios of womxn to men on shows, we thought it was important to feature all womxn,” Kixen said in an email.

Womxn is a broad term that includes a range of gender identies.

Kixen, a non-binary and two-spirit comedian involved in the scene for the past two decades, explained how women of colour are making up more and more of the local comedy community as a whole.

“Comedy is booming in Winnipeg and with shows like Woke Comedy Hour and women’s open mic, we have expanded the amount of womxn and people of colour in the scene,” said Kixen.

Cofounder of Woke Comedy Hour, comedian and poet Dione C. Haynes noted her experience in comedy as rough and critical.

“What I notice a lot is that as a black woman and a black queer woman in particular, we are the butt of the jokes, the people that basically experience the most oppression, people often say minority, but I prefer the term marginalized majority,” she said.

Haynes spoke of how this year’s cast for the Women’s Comedy Night is comprised of women of different backgrounds and orientations, all staunch fighters in using their craft to battle the oppression prevalent in today’s society.

“Sometimes it is easier for people to go ahead with the laughs,” she said.

“But I just feel like there has to be another way to have entertainment and actually say these are the things going on, these are the things that are sucking[…] How can we find ways to heal through this? How can we find ways to talk about this?”

She talked about her humour being a bridge between oppressed people, forging a togetherness in their struggle.

“I’d like to find a way to bond with people from my community, so queer folks, black folks, Indigenous, people of colour, because we do experience similar oppressions,” said Haynes.

Haynes also spoke of the role both poetry and comedy have played in developing her resolve.

She said her comedic passion derived from bringing her audience together through laughter.

“Oppression works very well in that way, in having us either attack ourselves or attach other people, instead of actually attacking the oppression,” she said.

 

The Women’s Comedy Night will take place at Club 200) Nov. 14. The early show starts at 7 p.m. and the late show starts at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance by contacting Saràsvati Productions at 204-586-2236.